Nikola Obradović is a „serial entrepreneur“. He has started working on many projects, while successfully doing his work as a project manager in “First Beat Media”. This is how Nikola sees the business world.
SW: Hi, Nikola! We have already made a short introduction of you for our readers, but I think it would be better if you told us a bit more about yourself and your current projects.
NO: Thanks ☺ Whenever somebody asks me what do I do, the easiest thing for me is to tell them that I am a project manager, although I actually do programming, designing and team management. I do multiple things simultaneously and I handle a couple of projects at the same time because I’m really into it. A project that occupies most of my time (besides my job at “First Beat Media”) is Theme Street – designing and selling templates and website themes.
SW: How did you decide to design website themes? What makes themes that your team builds different from the other themes on the market?
NO: I have created many websites for different clients, and in many cases we would wind up buying a website theme from one of the popular theme stores, instead of creating a custom theme. That is when I realised that I could create themes that I can offer to others in that same marketplace. In this way I can have a global reach and themes that my team builds can be sold everywhere in the world. Also, a theme we build once can be sold a few hundred times, which is one of the benefits of this type of work. The thing that sets us apart from the competition is our flawless customer support. We are available for our customers them 24/7 and try to help them in any way we can. People around the world know how to appreciate that.
SW: How many team members do you have?
NO: Currently, there are nine of us. We have two front-end programmers, three designers, one back-end programmer, two WordPress programmers. And I am the member, of course.
SW: You were the winner of the first Startup Weekend in Novi Sad. What are your experiences from that event? What lessons have you learned while developing your business idea in only 54 hours?
NO: It was a great experience! I came to Startup Weekend to meet new people and mingle with the crowd. It crossed my mind to try and present an idea that could solve a problem I had a couple of days prior – finding a parking space in Budapest. I figured that parking reservation would be a great option, so I pitched the idea. People liked it and I promptly had a great team surrounding me, creating Pick’n’Park. The rest is history ☺. I have also learned a few valuable lessons:
- It is important to meet new people all the time because that way we improve ourselves,
- I’ve learned through training and Startup Weekend the importance of being able to pivot, adapt your products and research your market,
- I’ve realised that customer development is more important than the programming, and that, on top of that, you have to do a bit of business development as well,
- The timing is very important – you need to determine the time when you are going to do something and stick to it, in your personal life and in business.
SW: Do you still work on the Pick’n’Park service? At which stage is the project now?
NO: This project currently stagnates. We are still in customer development phase. We are collecting data and statistics that will help the further development of the service.
SW: Working in a startup or corporate work – what is your choice and why?
NO: Interesting question. When you work for a corporation, your perspective is affected by the position you hold in that company. In my opinion, a person has to work in a big company first so that she could get all the necessary experience and learn all the procedures. It is where you develop your trade and learn what is right, and what is not in the business world. I usually use a saying that „The man must eat sawdust first so that later he could eat lumber“ :). If you are ambitious and wish to advance your career, the corporate work should just be a phase in your life. The next step is starting your own business. It carries a far greater value, both in finance and in your personal development. So, my final answer is a corporation first, then a startup :).
SW: Do you have a message for startup enthusiasts?
NO: Well, I have something to say to people who are preparing for that step. Work globally and start immediately! Don’t invest your money until you are certain that people wish to use your product. You have to validate your idea before you start investing. Often, what you find cool, others may not. Learn from your mistakes and constantly improve your idea by implementing what you have learned.
SW: Thanks Nikola, it was a real pleasure talking to you.
Today we will meet Aleksandar – creator of Silos software and an excellent programmer. His primary company in which he does all of the aforementioned is MP Solutions (a web design, programming and online business solutions company), a company he founded.
SW: Hello Saša! How are you? Could you please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a bit more about your startup.
AS: Hi, my name is Aleksandar Sabo, I’m electronics major with a temporary employment in the ICT sector. I’ve been a professional programmer for more than 15 years. I’ve worked on many interesting and challenging projects from a very wide spectre of different fields – industrial electronics, sports (kayaking), project management and WordPress websites, rose planting… Currently, I am focused on the development of the Silos program, which is a specialised software for the process of buying mercantile goods. This software is specifically aimed at the buyers of raw agricultural products, i.e. mills, agricultural cooperatives, and companies that trade agricultural products. The software helps them optimize their business and makes their buyout, accounting and shipping logistics more efficient.
SW: Why have you decided to create a technology startup in the field of agriculture? Is there any space for B2B software in this industry?
The story started back in 2011. My sister got a job as an accountant in the local agricultural cooperative in Neuzina that summer. When I got home for the holidays, I barely saw her, because she was working 10 to 12-hour shifts due to the amount of work involved in accounting for the buyouts. I wanted to help her to find a suitable solution to speed up her work and get all the necessary information about the bought goods in one place. Since we were unable to find a suitable tool, I’ve decided to create it myself, and Silos was born. Three years later, in the summer of 2014, my sister managed to finish all the work she had with mercantile goods buyout processes and to do all the accounting for doubled number of cooperants. She managed to do all this work in just seven work days while working normal shifts. She also managed to do her other regular work as a chief accountant during the same period. Silos helped her accomplish all of that.
This situation helped me realise that many people have the same problem as my sister. It was clear that there is a place in the market for my software, so I started creating a business around it.
SW: Tell us a little more about your team. How many of you are there and what is your focus?
AS: The Silos team have five members. We have two programmers, one marketing and promotional/educational activity organiser, one door to door salesperson and one more person that handles all other tasks.
Currently, our goal is to present ourselves the best we can in the domestic market. We want to show that we are trustworthy and that we can help agri-businesses to deal with their issues (especially during the buyout season).
SW: The harvesting season is over. Have you managed to help new customers?
AS: Yes, we have :). The software is stable and fully functional, and the team was able to provide full technical support and solve all problems that clients had. During the summer, the Silos software had processed the buyouts for 10 million euros worth of goods. We consider it to be a great success for our team.
SW: Is it hard to create a startup in Serbia in the field that isn’t very well-known for accepting innovations and new technologies?
AS: The effort we make isn’t any bigger than the other startups (oriented toward different industries) are making.There is a preconceived notion that people from the agricultural field don’t follow the advancements in technology, which is far from the truth. If you take a look at the Vojvodina fields, you will see that modern machinery does the work; that the wheat is harvested in space shuttle-like machines; and you will see only modern tractors being used. When it comes to software, the people from this industry know that they need specialized software and know what to expect from it. But, not all of them understand that the software has to be bought and that it cannot be created by “the kid next door”. This is the reason why we try to educate our clients as much as we can.
SW: Working in a startup or a company – which is your choice and why?
AS: I always worked on startups, so it is a clear choice for me. I’m not the person that can go to the office from 9 to 5 and stop thinking about work as soon as I leave the building. I like to work until the job is done. I like working from home, or from a cafe. I also like to travel and work in different cities. Another thing I like is the thrill that startups are offering – I never get bored at work.
SW: What is your message to the future entrepreneurs who are thinking about creating a startup?
AS: I don’t want to sound too smart, so I’ll keep it simple: set a goal for yourself, choose the path to that goal and go for it. Allow yourself to change goals, to change the road you are heading for, but never let yourself stay goalless or pathless. It will help you a great deal when you decide to develop your ideas.
SW: Thank you Saša, we wish you the best of luck in your work!
Goran Bajazetov directed and lead design teams, and contributed as a designer – on projects for clients such as Google, Toshiba, 20th Century Fox, Coca-Cola, Yahoo, e-Bay Motors and many others. He worked with startups from USA and Europe by strategizing and consulting, development planning, prototyping and project managing. He is passionate about involving and creating new technologies in tandem with cutting-edge design.
On SWNS03 Goran will be one of the mentors who will help you develop your ides into a sustainable business model. Read what he has to say about entrepreneurship, Startup Weekend and work in general.
SW: Considering the fact that you were successful freelancer since you were 15, what inspired you to make your own business?
GB: In that time, I was working for a company from Dubai, and it was mostly lack of my satisfaction that drag me into the idea of becoming an entrepreneur.
SW: When you were starting your company, did an event like Startup Weekend exist?
GB: No. Back then you did not have that kind of opportunity.
SW: If you were now to start your firm, would you present your idea through Startup Weekend?
GB: Definitely. I would take part in that kind of event. I think that knowledge and experience that you can get throw these workshops are very useful, and it could save you plenty of time, as much as money.
SW: What would be your advice for young people who have an idea, but are too scared to realize it or simply don’t know how?
GB: Whenever you start something new, there’s always a possibility to fail. But you have to wish it strong enough and to believe in its success. If you don’t know how to do something, search it on the internet. Everything’s already been written, and you just have to read it. The problem that you have has surely already been solved. It’s up on you to find the solution and decide to use it on your own situation.
SW: Do you think there are some specific characteristics that all the entrepreneurs must have?
GB: All of them must have a strong wish for success; and basic human values.
SW: Thank you Goran. We wish you a lot of success in future!
Welcome to the Startup Weekend blog! Here you can see everything we post about Startup Weekend in Novi Sad, well, at least the important stuff, like information about the event, interviews with your mentors who will be there for you during the SWNS03 ( from 20th to 22nd November), interviews with judges who will decide who’s the best, and much more.
You are still wondering what is the Startup Weekend? You never heard about it, or you don’t know enough to be part of it?
Well, let’s go from the start 🙂
Startup Weekend is an event where participants have the chance to make a good business story out of their ideas and convince the jury that their idea is the best, that they are ready to implement immediately and that they know how to do it.
It all starts on Friday night when contestants gather and pitch their ideas. About ten most convincing ideas, chosen by the audience and participants, goes on for further implementation. All participants gather in teams, and the game begins. The goal they have is to develop their ideas until Sunday afternoon. What teams have to do is:
- to define their ideas clearly,
- set its basic hypotheses,
- to do customer development,
- to make your MVP, and
- be well prepared for the final presentation.
Sounds impossible? Believe me, a lot can be achieved in 54 hours, only if you try hard enough.
For the entire weekend, competitors will be on the road from an idea to the business model. They will not be left alone. They will get some help from mentors who have already passed that road and proved themselves as successful entrepreneurs.
And that’s not all. Teams who triumph and wins one of the first three places will get some interesting and valuable prizes. And, on top of that, the ones who become champions of SWNS03 had a chance to participate in Global Startup Battle.
Now, let’s go back in time to see how it was on previous SW events in Novi Sad.
The first Startup Weekend in Novi Sad was organized in October 2013.
A large number of registered participants and the great atmosphere made this weekend very interesting and extremely successful. The winner of the first Startup Weekend was the team “Pick’n’Park” gathered around Nikola Obradovic. The idea that this team presented was Airbnb for parking, or in other words possibility to reserve a parking spaces in big cities. Sounds interesting, right? But the fact that the idea was interesting was not the only factor that influenced this team triumph. They won because they had a good approach to the idea, formed business model, had a quality presentation and presented the prototype of the future website.
Second Startup Weekend in Novi Sad took place this year in March. Great teams and great people have shown that they know what startups are about, that they know how to pitch and how to work on the development of their ideas. The idea that had triumphed was named “Bill Hunter”. The essence of the idea is an application that could easily scan invoices we receive and send it to our accountants immediately. In this way, we would get rid of the additional papers, and our accountants would no longer have headaches due to misplaced bills. Presentation of Sanja Jovanovic was spotless. She had made it to explain all the aspects of the future application. In the end, even if the competition was tied “Bill Hunter” was the one who grabbed the victory. And, not to forget to mention that in spite of the hard work, a good time was not absent.
We think that is great to be part of SW, don’t you?
If you are still having second thoughts, here are a few reasons why should you be on SWNS03:
- you will have the chance to pitch your idea,
- you will meet a lot of interesting people,
- you will learn a lot, especially how to develop your idea,
- there are some prizes (for first three teams),
- and the last, but not least is that you will have fun! 🙂
That’s what we can certainly promise you.
The third Startup Weekend in Novi Sad is scheduled for 20, 21 and 22 November 2015. It will take place in the Management building of the University of Novi Sad. So, come, join us and be a part of an amazing weekend that can change your life.